Boop! - Chicago 11/26/2023
Last Edit: PlazaBoy 01:16 am EST 11/27/23
Posted by: PlazaBoy 01:05 am EST 11/27/23

It’s a mess, but an interesting mess. It’s very early in the run so plenty of time to improve it.

I had no particular expectation of how one would portray Betty Boop on stage, but Jasmine Amy Rogers seems to have perfectly captured the somewhat odd mix of characteristics that I think of when I think of Betty Boop. Rogers’s Betty is sexy, but innocent, adorable, sweet but sassy, seems of the period, but not overly so. She seems physically right for the role, is extremely likeable and has a knock out voice. I sense she may have had an injury or fatigue as her dancing was somewhat restrained. She moves very well, but seemed to hold back in the full-scale dance numbers. She struggled a bit in the opening number, but that is entirely understandable. Overall, she was terrific.

There is a lot of talent on stage. No one disappoints. It’s the show itself that is the issue.

There are many under developed plotlines, with the central one being that Betty gets transported from the past to present day New York (via what looks like a magic La-Z-boy) as she wants to experience an “Ordinary Day” and presumably go on a journey of self-discovery. What the self-discovery is shifts a few times and it’s never clear what Betty wants, not even in her big 11 o'clock number “Something to Shout About.”

There’s a love story with a jazz loving guy. Jazz could have been a great throughline to connect past and present, but that is also never fully developed.

We have a teen fan-girl who sings a big number about how much Betty means to her, which paints Betty as a more noble and inspirational figure than is credible.

There is also a political plot with Betty getting involved in a political campaign.

We have the cliché comic relief older couple, because mature love and sex is always hilarious. That’s Stephen DeRosa and Faith Prince made to force some pretty poor songs into showstoppers.

There’s some push pull between Betty needing to be back in her original world and staying in the present, but none of it is adequately explained.

It’s all too much and too little. The plot is barely sketched in. Anytime the show is not directly focusing on Betty, it dips.

The score is not cohesive. A handful of songs are serviceable, A few are totally unnecessary. The worst is “In Color” at Comic-Con where Betty sings the praises of the color wheel.

One of the numbers that I did enjoy was “Take it To the Next Level” sung by Erich Bergen playing a slimy politician. It was an homage to the 1960s Steve Lawrence “A Room Without Windows” style number. It was truly amusing. The same performer has a dreadful number where he has to sing that he is “The king of waste’”, as waste disposal (complete with poop jokes) is yet another plot point.

Jerry Mitchell makes the show move and it looks great. I’m glad I saw it. I will try to go back because I do think there is a show in there somewhere. The leading lady and the rest of the cast make it worth finding.

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